Can the Vols find their quarterback

Published 11:56 pm Thursday, September 16, 2021

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As a diehard Tennessee Vols fan, I have to admit that I am starting to see the end at the light of the tunnel to where the future could lead under the direction of new head coach Josh Heupel.

It is amusing, to say the least at the armchair quarterbacks that are calling for him to be fired after only two games, but as a reminder, it took a while to get in the position the Vols are currently in and it will take a while to crawl back out of the hole.

I point to two things that I like right now in what I am seeing and that is the speed of the game that Tennessee is playing on offense and how the defense is holding its own.

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Yes, Pittsburgh scored 41 points against the Vols last week, but Tennessee scored 34 and they had several chances to have put more points on the board thinking back to two drives where the football was on the two-yard line each time without scoring and the final drive that was ended when the football was picked off as the Vols had the opportunity to tie the game late in the fourth quarter.

Right now, however, the one thing that is evident is that the quarterback situation is one where Heupel is really to figure out which one is ready to step up and grab full control of the offense.

Joe Milton III, the Michigan transfer, has several positives on his side in his size and ability to scramble as well as a strong arm that can zing a football in the air 65-plus yards.

But the flip side of the coin is the cons that surround the positives – finding the right time to run and finding the touch to know when to take a little off the ball to hit his receivers who have worked hard to break free from their defender.

There were at least four occasions in the Pitt game that Milton absolutely put too much power behind his pass resulting in overthrown passes and missed scoring attempts.

When Milton went down, Hendon Hooker came in and on his first drive looked like a middle school player who takes his first snap in the big game however when Hooker made his first solid connection, his mentality changed as he all of a sudden was in the game and ready to contribute.

The Virginia Tech transfer ended the game hitting 15-of-21 passes for 189 yards and two scores. His one downside was taking three sacks. Milton ended his day with 7-of-12 passes for 50 yards. He also was sacked twice in the game.

One unknown right now is what Coach Heupel is thinking on Harrison Bailey as the gunner who was supposed to be the future of Tennessee has not seen the field yet.

Time will tell who will show they want the football and the pressure of leading the Vols to where Big Orange Nation is expecting them to return to.

One thing is for sure and that is the Tennessee fan base needs to be patient and to see the positives about this young team. I am not so sure that if I was a player that I would even want to take the field the way they are sometimes talked about on social media platforms.

Everyone needs to remember that these young men are only 18, 19, and 20 years old for the most part. They are still growing in maturity and doing their best to represent Tennessee – both the university and the state to the best of their ability.